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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers Preview

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The Blazers look to get back on track as they close out their season series against the Clippers.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (46-29) vs. LA Clippers (41-34)

Friday, March 30th - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Maurice Harkless (out)
Clippers injuries: Patrick Beverley (out), Avery Bradley (out), Milos Teodosic (questionable), Danilo Gallinari (questionable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, ESPN
How to stream: WatchESPN, YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM, ESPN Radio
SBN Affiliate: Clips Nation

The Portland Trail Blazers return home after a three-game road trip to face the LA Clippers for the final time this season. The Blazers, who hold a 2.5-game lead over the Thunder for the 3-seed with only seven games remaining, are coming off a disappointing loss to Memphis. Damian Lillard is expected to play. He missed the Memphis game to be in Portland for the birth of his son.

The Clippers have won three in a row, including an impressive win in Toronto. They currently sit one game behind the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Portland is 2-1 against the Clippers this season with their only loss coming early in the season on a Blake Griffin buzzer-beater. The Blazers beat LA at the Staples Center on March 18.

What to watch for

  • Tobias Harris’ hot shooting. Man, it sure looks like the Clippers won the Blake Griffin trade. When LA traded one of their franchise cornerstones to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first-round pick, the move was widely viewed as the start of a Clipper rebuild. However, they have stayed in the playoff hunt out West while Detroit has fallen out of the playoffs in the East. A big reason has been the play of Tobias Harris. The forward is putting up 19.7 points per game for the Clippers (Griffin’s scoring 19.8 for Detroit) while shooting 43.6 percent from three. He’s been especially hot from distance recently, hitting 15 of his last 25 threes over the past five games.
  • Keeping DeAndre Jordan off the boards. The Clippers big man has always been a good rebounder, but he’s taken it up a notch this month. He’s leading the league with 17.3 boards per game in March, pulling down 67.8 percent of his rebound opportunities. For comparison, Jusuf Nurkic and Ed Davis grab about 55 percent of their rebound opportunities.
  • Scoring guards. This game will feature three guards who have put up 50 points in a game in 2018. Blazers fans probably remember McCollum’s 50-point night against Chicago in January and Lillard’s 50-point night in Sacramento a couple weeks later. Lou Williams had his own 50-point night against Warriors on the road in January. It’s not likely the three guards will repeat those efforts and combine for 150 points, but they will demand most of the defensive attention when they are on the court. McCollum and Lillard are both coming off 40-point games (Lillard’s against New Orleans on Tuesday; McCollum’s against Memphis on Wednesday), and Williams put up 30 the last time Portland faced the Clippers.

What they’re saying

SI.com’s Rohan Nadkarni ranked the Clippers 15th in SI’s recent NBA Power Rankings:

The Clips have responded to a four-game losing streak by winning two of their last three, all of which came on the road. Winning in Toronto is no joke! Unfortunately for L.A., its schedule hardly lets up the rest of the way. Whatever happens, this team is going to be fun to watch—the Clippers have scored less than 100 points only once in March.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times pointed out that Lou Williams is close to a Clippers’ milestone after LA’s win over Toronto:

Williams is closing in on a milestone for the Clippers. Currently ranked fourth in Clippers’ history in three-pointers made in a single season, Williams needs 22 [now 20] more to surpass franchise-leader J.J. Redick, who established the mark with 201 made last season.

Williams, one of the best sixth men in the NBA, has nine games [now seven] left to break the team record for three-pointers in a single season, beginning Tuesday night with a game at Staples Center against the Milwaukee Bucks.